SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — There’s a shortage of veterinarians in California and it’s the animals who are suffering. The San Francisco SPCA surveyed shelters all over the state, finding that more than 300,000 shelter animals aren’t getting adequate care.

That’s resulting in overcrowded shelters with rising illnesses and adoptable animals being euthanized. More than half of animal shelters that budget for veterinarians are having a hard time filling the job position, leaving shelters unable to care for animals at their full potential.

Dr. Jennifer Scarlett, CEO San Francisco SPCA is concerned about the current shortage of veterinarians. Less vets, means many animals go without adequate care. It applies to everything from the basics, like treating viral infections and getting x-rays, to more serious surgeries.

The biggest shock is that a shortage of veterinarians has resulted in the euthanizing of treatable pets.

“We’re seeing this tremendous crowding, which leads to disease and unfortunately 35 percent of our respondents said they are having to make euthanasia on animals like Button. Healthy adoptable animals,” Scarlett said.

The problem bleeds into communities. Many shelters provide low-cost spay and neuter programs, but if they don’t have vets to do the work—more unwanted animals are surrendered to the shelter.

In California, animals have to be spayed or neutered before they can be adopted.

“Now we can’t get them out of the shelter because there’s not enough spay neuter and now we can’t get prevent them from coming into the shelter, so this will compound itself,” said Scarlett.

Why are less vets on the payroll? Dr. Scarlett says with only 32 Vet Schools in the U.S. there needs to be more schools sending young talent out into the workforce.

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The pandemic also took a toll—with several veterinarians making the choice to leave their high stress job.

“We have this chronic issue of not enough veterinarian schools and the acute issue of now veterinarians are so over worked they’re leaving the field,” said Scarlett.

She says the problem won’t resolve itself. She’s hoping for a national strategy that creatives more incentives for young people to enter the job field of caring for animals—and stay there.

The SF SPCA is encouraging the public to reach out to your elected officials to ask them to take action. Adopting and volunteering at a local animal shelter also helps.